White House all-a-Twitter in historic healthcare vote

Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:11pm EDT
 
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By Ross Colvin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the clock ticked down to the historic healthcare vote on Sunday and congressional leaders scrambled to get holdout Democratic lawmakers on board, the White House was all-a-Twitter.

White House staff used the microblogging site to keep the momentum going, keeping track of which Democratic lawmakers had changed their minds and decided to vote in favor of the bill, finally giving the party a narrow majority to pass it.

Their short text messages, known as tweets, also gave the nearly 2 million registered followers of the White House's Twitter feed a blow-by-blow account of how President Barack Obama was spending his time as the vote neared.

Obama's White House is increasingly using Internet media like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to talk directly to Americans and mobilize grassroots support for the president's ambitious legislative agenda.

Twitter's 140-character messages offer an immediacy that is attractive to a White House known for being tightly controlled and keen to get its message out in a rolling, 24-hour-a-day cable news network environment.

"It is a logical extension of their campaign strategy where they used the Internet and viral videos to spread their messages as quickly and as thoroughly as possible," said Dan Amundson, research director at the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University in Washington.

SECRET SERVICE PROBES TWITTER THREAT

"The traditional thing everybody in Washington tries to do is speak past the media ... to speak directly to the public."   Continued...